“Act as if this is your last moment, and act as if you are going to live forever.”
This is what my dad told me last Tuesday night as he laid in this hospital bed after a massive heart attack. I didn’t understand these two contradictory statements and asked him to explain.
“Act as if this is your last moment- stay calm, relaxed, attentive. Act as if you are going to live forever- put all of your energy and effort into the thing you are doing.”
If you’ve ever met my dad, he’s like a walking Buddha with a deep belly laugh that shakes the ground. I shared with him the concept of sthira sukha in yoga, the balance between effort and ease. Yoga teaches us to move through the world with strength and confidence (sthira), while continuing to remain receptive and relaxed (sukha). He smiled and said “yes yes, same same.”
He was scheduled for a quadruple bypass the following morning. We talked for a while and he was feeling scarred, rightfully so. I looked at him and said, “Dad, act as if this is your last moment, and act as if you will live forever.”
He laughed his deep belly laugh that shook the hospital bed 😂
As unsettling as this event has been, it reminded me the importance of how we show up. Here are some simple practices you can do to embody what it means to be strong and relaxed at the same time.
When breathing– Take a deep breath in through your nose and hold the breath. Relax your body around the held breath. Then slowly release with control. Do that 10 times and feel the balance between effort (holding the breath) and ease (relaxing the body).
When meditating- Sit tall in your seat with spine erect. Relax the shoulders down the back, remove the tongue from the roof of your mouth and relax the eyes closed.
When yoga’ing- While practicing yoga (or any exercise) hold a pose firmly grounded. Feel strong in the muscle and bones of your body, then relax the skin around the body.
When speaking- Be confident in what you are saying while remaining fully receptive to the other person’s response. This is specifically useful in a disagreement or argument. State your position, but listen to the other person as if they know something that you don’t.
When behaving- Carve out some down time in your workday to take care of yourself. Go for a walk around the block, sleep in one morning a week, or call a friend who brings out your deep belly laugh. Most of us put a lot of effort into our day but don’t take the time to enjoy the day.
The balance between effort and ease is a practice, << Test First Name >>. I’m here to support you, and I love to hear from you. Respond to this email and let me know how this sits with you, and how you personally practice sthira sukha. I’d love to share with my dad! 🙂
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